Marriage is like walking in the door to your brand new home to find two deer heads mounted on the wall. On one hand, you are shocked the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with would think it a good idea to hang dead animals on the wall without consulting you, meanwhile you are telling him to scoot them closer together for the best aesthetic appeal.
Sharing a home is the tangible representation of two lives colliding into one. For example, one room in our house is decked out in Jimi Hendrix posters, Gibson guitars, and surf motif while the common area bleeds Nate Berkus and geometric patterns. Decorating our new home has been a clash of styles (if you can call my husband’s 14 year old boy theme a style), but even more, the interactions and words spoken inside our home have created a far more significant juxtaposition of two previously separate lives.
My husband is slow to speak, calm, relaxed, self-proclaimed lazy, gentle, and hilarious. His personality is that of a California surfer and redneck combined who happens to love Jesus as well. I am just as happy of a person, just tinged with more anxious, controlling, and diligent attributes. We make a great combination, honestly. But our personality styles have caused a significant readjustment in our conjoined spiritual lives. I am the “go-getter” and the typical one to lead the conversation, start a new book series, and have question and answers pertaining to our subject matter. My husband doesn’t really even like to read. Yet, my husband has been called to be the spiritual leader in our marriage.
The question I have been toying with and we, as a couple, have been conducting experiments based upon, is how do we embrace our personalities and our seemingly opposite roles simultaneously?
I am a natural born leader and my husband loves to support me, but we both know the husband leads. So, what does that look like spiritually in our marriage? We don’t really have a firm answer on that yet, but we have a couple of attempts in the works. Here are our tips to other couples who may find themselves in a similar situation of traversing through spiritual leadership in a new marriage:
1. Communicate. It was no mystery that I wanted to drive, steer, and navigate our time with God as a couple, and I was not blind to my husband’s desire to lead me spiritually. What it took was a conversation. Speak openly about what you understand about scripture, what your expectations are for your spouse, and your needs from one another. You will find differences and similarities in opinion which may come as a surprise. It was crazy to think I have been dating/married to this man for seven years and I am still learning new things about him! But it took us a while to have this conversation as a newly married couple. Honestly, it was a little intimidating because my time with God has always been very intimate and personal. Bringing another person into that relationship can be scary-even when it’s your husband. This first conversation was truly half the battle to get over the hump of awkwardness in having a spiritual relationship as man and wife.
2. Start Simple. Sometimes I dive headlong into things, but my husband reels me in. He suggested a plan of reading a devotional chapter and scripture together twice a week as a start to our time with God. I would have written out a monthly reading plan with homework included- retrospect makes me thankful for my husband. He knew we had to start somewhere and habituate this faithful aspect of our marriage before we could become the Christian couple we may idealize in our minds. Starting simply has allowed us to become acclimated to each other in the presence of God while providing plenty of room to grow. I know the Lord is not berating us for starting small, but rather smiling down because we are choosing to seek and grow with Him.
3. Pray. This may seem obvious, but the only way to truly become more like Christ is for Christ to make you more like Him. This involves husband and wife praying for grace, mercy, and blessing to be poured into their relationship. We cannot be righteous on our own, we have acknowledged this is not a “seek and conquer devotional boot camp” for married couples. My husband and I need to pray for our marriage to become Christ-centered with Christ. It seems so simple, but often I find myself leaving the most pivotal person out of the equation. To admit to weakness and surrender your marriage will be your greatest sacrifice for spiritual change and a marriage bursting with unconditional love.
We are on quite the spiritual journey complete with compromises- like when he uses the “Sean Connery” audible voice app for scripture reading versus actually reading it (which makes me laugh every time). Despite our seemingly opposite personalities and interior design preferences, my husband and I are slowly finding cohesion in our time together with Christ. We have been enjoying this new time with God and each other tremendously and recommend all Christian couples to start somewhere with willing hearts!
What works in your marriage?